Correction Appended on July 12, 2012
A new batch of evidence has been released detailing the police investigation into George Zimmerman’s actions after he fatally shot Trayvon Martin. The latest stack of documents – 284 pages worth – is a compilation of witness statements and investigators’ reports collected by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the FBI in the weeks following the Feb. 26 shooting. While the documents, some heavily redacted, don’t contain any bombshells, they do confirm the extent to which authorities, both local and federal, ramped up their evidence-gathering in late March and early April after the story made front page news across the U.S.
Zimmerman, 28, walked out of jail last Friday after posting $1 million bail, a sum that was ramped up from his earlier $150,000 bail after it was found he and his wife Shellie lied about their finances. He’s charged with second-degree murder in the shooting of the 17-year-old teen. Zimmerman has maintained his innocence, claiming he fired his gun out of self-defense.
See the entirety of the evidence in the document at the bottom of this page. But in lieu of wading through almost 300 pages, here are the eight things you need to know about the latest details:
Family members are sure that the voice crying for help on 911 tapes is Martin’s.
People close to the teenager insist that the unidentified voice screaming for help on 911 tapes from the evening of Feb. 26 is Trayvon Martin’s. An investigator spoke with Martin’s cousin who said he would swear to it “on a stack of Bibles.” Sybrina Fulton, Martin’s mother, also confirmed to investigators that the voice was her son’s. That same cousin said that he hadn’t seen Martin smoke marijuana that day, and the two had spent part of the day together.
(PHOTOS: Faces of Protest for Trayvon Martin)
Police disagreed on the extent of Zimmerman’s injuries following his altercation with Martin.
The first officer on the scene said that Zimmerman continued to bleed from the nose once he arrived at the station and had been cleaned by paramedics. However, another officer who saw Zimmerman walk in “did not notice any injury to Zimmerman’s nose,” but noted that Zimmerman was “grunting” in pain. Photos released from the night of the incident show injuries to Zimmerman’s face and the back of his head.
More accounts support Zimmerman’s version of his fight with Trayvon Martin.
New evidence indicates Zimmerman’s back was wet and covered with grass when police picked him up — which would corroborate his version of the events of that evening, in which Martin attacked him and pushed him to the ground. Most witnesses up until now were not able to confirm who was on top during the fight. However, a new witness now maintains that the man on top during the fight was the same one lying motionless on the ground after the gunshot — in other words, Martin. This evidence lends credence to Zimmerman’s story of self-defense.
Zimmerman and Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee exchanged emails long before the incident occurred.
In the weeks immediately following Trayvon Martin’s death Sanford Police maintained they had no idea who Zimmerman was; however, a video surfaced of a January 2011 city hall forum in which Zimmerman publicly lambasted the “lazy” work of Sanford police officers and claimed to have gone on ridealongs in police squad cars. Today’s evidence also released a short email exchange between Zimmerman and former Sanford police chief Bill Lee, in which Zimmerman told Lee that a helpful officer had “restored [his] faith” in the Sanford police department. Lee was fired June 20th amid accusations the police had botched their handling of Martin’s death.
Zimmerman may have been influenced by Martin’s hoodie, not his skin color.
After interviewing dozens of friends, family, and co-workers, the FBI found no one who said Zimmerman was racist, damaging the allegations that the shooting of Trayvon Martin may have been racially motivated — charges the FBI had organized a probe to specifically investigate. A gang specialist with the Sanford Police Department told the FBI that Zimmerman’s actions may actually have been prompted by Martin’s attire. A local gang called the Goons is known to wear hoodies in cold weather. Meanwhile Sanford police detective Christopher Serino, the department’s lead investigator into the Martin killing, told FBI agents that he believed Zimmerman was a ‘soft guy’ with a ‘little hero complex’, but that he was no racist.
Zimmerman was prone to rage and violence, according to his ex-fiancée.
Zimmerman’s ex-fiancée told investigators that Zimmerman had a “bad temper” and was prone to “road rage.” She also told the FBI about the manner in which their relationship “deteriorated” after they moved in together, saying Zimmerman became overly protective and territorial. Friction between the two culminated in the breaking-off of their engagement amid mutual filings of domestic violence complaints in 2005.
New evidence confirms details of earlier crimes Zimmerman had alleged took place in the area.
During his 911 call on the night of Feb. 26, Zimmerman said he thought Martin was going to break into one of the homes in the gated Retreat at Twin Lakes community. In the call he cited several burglaries and crimes that had recently taken place. The evidence released Thursday confirms that seven burglaries, along with several drug offenses and larcenies, had been reported in the community between March 2010 and March 2012.
A friend of Zimmerman’s volunteered to be his “media consultant”.
ABC and NBC provided meals and airline tickets to an unnamed friend of George Zimmerman. The person, who met Zimmerman about six years ago, has extensive media experience and offered to be a consultant on his behalf as the case gained national attention. The man, according to his witness statement, flew around on behalf of Zimmerman attempting to secure for him a television interview.
A previous version of this article incorrectly implied that Zimmerman and Lee had worked together during Zimmerman’s time as a neighborhood watch volunteer. A representative for Lee says that Lee had only been on the job 10 months before the Trayvon Martin shooting and that this single email exchange is the only contact the two men had.